(Rome, Italy) - Four days packed with lectures, meetings, ceremonies and social events and attended by 1,124 of the credit union community's leaders ended today, closing World Council of Credit Unions's (WOCCU) inaugural World Credit Union Conference but opening a new chapter in WOCCU's history. The meeting, which ran from July 24-27, brought together the best elements of WOCCU's International Leadership Institutes and triennial Forums for "the best of both worlds." The combination proved to be a success, with participants travelling from 41 countries worldwide to gain the insight and inspiration that carries the movement forward.
Highlights of the inaugural Conference included a talk by Sherron Watkins, the famed Enron whistleblower, on corporate ethics; the third annual Regulator's Roundtable discussion, a unique opportunity for regulators from around the world to convene on issues of importance to their field; and an extensive program of educational break-out sessions hosted by a varied group of experts. Today's program was no exception to what proved a successful experiment for the credit union industry.
Today began with the last four break-out sessions, on PEARLS, Financial Education, International Governance Principles and Money Laundering — an ongoing point of concern for the financial services industry. The skillful team of session leaders raised pertinent questions, such as "is financial education a drain or gain?", encouraging participants to both broaden their views of common practices and give some thought to those elements of the industry they may have overlooked.
At the day's general session, L.R. "Bobby" McVeigh led the Board of Directors Installation of Officers. Melvin Edwards of St. Kitts and Nevis, formerly 2nd vice chair, became 1st vice chair. Barry Jolette of the US went from treasurer to 2nd vice chair. Manuel Rabines of Peru, who was secretary, will now be acting as treasurer. Gzegorz Biereski of Poland will take over as secretary. McVeigh handed his own title of chairman over to former 1st vice chair Gary Plank, ceremoniously putting the chairman's necklace around Plank's neck.
After this ceremony the day's keynote speaker took the podium. Jaime Caruana, governor of the Bank of Spain and chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which recently drafted the Basel II Capitol Accord, gave a clear, informative presentation on the Basel II and its importance for credit unions. To close this last Session, Erik Klein, president of Dharma Consulting, provided an educational synopsis entitled, "'Taking the Best of Both Worlds' Back to Your World." Klein skillfully summarized the major lessons of the conference, ending on an inspiring note.
After the last of the sessions ended, all participants convened in the traditional way, at the awards ceremony and cultural night. The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Gerry Foley and the WYCUP Award winners were announced. WYCUP, or the WOCCU Young Credit Union People Awards, are presented every year to five outstanding young professionals who have demonstrated their skills, intelligence and dedication to the credit union movement. Winners are awarded a trip to the following year's Conference.
Participants then enjoyed a relaxing end to four activity-packed days, sampling the Italian culture in the form of cuisine and a live performance by outstanding tenors. It was a fitting end to an event that has made WOCCU history by proving that sometimes, it is possible to have the Best of Both Worlds.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.